MCA'S GAIN WITH OVITZ WOULD BE CAA'S BIG LOSS

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Michael Ovitz's "Will he or won't he?" soap opera is expected to end this week with a cliff-hanger: After the superagent takes the helm at MCA, what's to become of his Creative Artists Agency?

The various scenarios bouncing around late last week had Mr. Ovitz leaving for MCA this week either by himself or with a cadre of CAA's upper management, possibly including Ron Meyer and Bill Haber. Mr. Ovitz, along with Mr. Meyer, who currently heads up the movie division, and Mr. Haber, in charge of TV, founded the talent agency in 1975.

Regardless, CAA's position as Hollywood's premier power broker will be undermined if Mr. Ovitz departs.

"He's an incredibly powerful dealmaker," said a veteran Hollywood marketing executive. "You take away this key figure, a guy with his fingers in all the pies, and it's got to hurt."

And if "Mr. Ovitz takes his lieutenants with him, the agency could crumble," said an agent at a competing agency.

That's because Sandy Climan and Bob Kavner, CAA's new-media brains, are rumored to be joining Mr. Ovitz at MCA. If they go, industry observers believe, Bell Atlantic, Nynex Corp. and Pacific Telesis-which formed the new-media entertainment company Tele-TV-might drop CAA as marketing consultant and talent broker.

Moreover, Shelly Hochron, who with Len Fink handles marketing for Coca-Cola Co. and Tele-TV, is being rumored for an MCA marketing position. Jack Rapke, a key CAA agent, is said to be a candidate for the top job at MCA's Universal Studios.

It's almost as if Mr. Ovitz, eyeing a studio job, had been developing a studio management staff over the past couple years under the guise of taking CAA into new businesses.

However, the staff of CAA doesn't offer impressive credentials at actually running a studio. In fact, while Mr. Ovitz knows the studio biz, he has no experience in managing a studio and, for that reason, observers wonder whether Seagram Co. President Edgar Bronfman Jr. is a bit starry-eyed when it comes to Mr. Ovitz.

Then again .... "he brings some incredible strengths to the table, especially with his relationships with talent," said Michael Wolf, who heads the media and entertainment practice at Booz Allen & Hamilton, New York. "Essentially, what's driving the action in the entertainment business today is the ability to access talent and get them to produce the best work possible. That's the strength Mr. Ovitz brings to the job."

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